Sammy Watson defends indoor track national title

Sammy Watson defends indoor track national title


Sammy Watson defends indoor track national title


Rush-Henrietta's Sammy Watson wins the 1000 meter race with a time of 2:26.08.

Rush-Henrietta’s Sammy Watson wins the 1000 meter race with a time of 2:26.08.

Junior Sammy Watson and sophomore Lanae-Tava Thomas led another Rush-Henrietta assault on track and field’s record books, while Wilson Magnet senior Kelly Brown tied a meet record with a personal best at the New Balance indoor track and field nationals Saturday in New York City.

“A really great day,” said R-H coach Mike DeMay by phone, acknowledging that he’s been enjoying a lot of them these last weeks and months with his girl sprinters. “Sammy defended her national title in the 800, Lanae’s 200 was third-best all-time in New York, our sprint medley has won three in a row now (two indoor, one outdoor) and Leah (throws specialist Leah Hulbert) set two PRs for us.”

A record 58 Rochester-area athletes brought home four golds and seven medals (top six) from The Fort Washington Armory in Washington Heights, Manhattan.

R-H’s haul:

•Watson’s 2-minute, 5.11-second 800 was also third-best all-time in New York, and projects out to about a 2:40 1,000, her signature event. She holds the Section V record with a 2:45.32. “Nationals are the only time she runs the 800,” DeMay said. “She got kind of boxed in, and got spiked, but once she broke out of the pack she took control.”

•Thomas now holds the state sophomore record with her 23.66 in the 200, good for third. It also broke East High’s Zilla Higgs’ 23-year-old Section V mark, after she had settled for 12th in the 60 (7.53).

“The 60’s more like a warmup for me,” Thomas said. “I tripped a bit halfway through, too. Ohio (a Feb. 14 invitational) was the first time I ever ran the 60. But I go all-out for the 200, and I was in the perfect position in lane 4.

“I got behind a crowd, could see who I needed to chase, and PR’d. I was very proud of my race.”

•Tori Thompson, Stephanie Nwachi, Thomas and Watson led all the way and cruised to gold in the 1,600 sprint medley relay, in 3:55.48. It didn’t quite break their national record (3:52.68), but DeMay said it was significant because it was the first nationals for Nwachi, a sophomore who’s replaced Sammy’s graduated sister, Ceara, on the relay.

Purple reigns supreme at track championships

Brown’s 21.64 won the 200 of the Emerging Elite division on Friday, tying the meet’s record for the division and surprising himself and his coach, Jalen Smith. But he paid a price for it.

“He’d been telling me all day,” Smith said, “that he would be happy with a 21.8 because his PR’s a 21.9.”

“I was shocked when they flashed the 21.64,” Brown said. “It was the first time I’d ever run on a banked track. It felt good.”

But moments after he’d finished, he didn’t feel so good. His right hip flexor muscle started hurting.

“I don’t know how I hurt it,” he said, “I didn’t feel it when I was running, but I knew I couldn’t continue on to do the 60 and the 60 hurdles.”

His time was fourth-best for the entire meet, counting the championship division times, and within a quarter second of Jermaine Stafford’s Section V record set back in 1994.

“I’m going after that in outdoor,” Brown said.

Sammy Watson leads indoor track record-breakers

Terry Taylor of Greece Olympia had the other gold for the Rochester area, in the emerging elite division’s pole vault. He jumped 14-9¼, best of the season in Section V but almost a foot short of the Section V record.

Other highlights included a second by AJ Gruttadauro of Brockport in the racewalk, a fourth by Connor Spiegel of Webster Thomas in Emerging Elite high jump (6-5) and Ben Bulkeley’s seventh in the championship 800. The Fairport sophomore’s 1:55.16 is just .09 off the Section V record set by another Fairport athlete, Doug Gunzelmann, back in 1999 at nationals.

Jim Castor, retired assistant sports editor of the Democrat and Chronicle, has covered high school sports in the Rochester area for more than five decades. He can be reached at

Rush-Henrietta sophomore Thomas continues to soar

Indoor track nationals

Rochester-area finishers at the sixth annual New Balance national high school track and field championships Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Fort Washington Avenue Armory, Washington Heights, Manhattan. *-Section V all-time best. Top six in elite division receive All-America medals. Medals to top six in all events.


Elite division/200 meters: 17 (40). Noah Williams (McQuaid) 22.23, 800: 7 (18). Ben Bulkeley (Fairport) 1:55.16, 5,000: 18 (23). Donny Glavin (McQ) 15:24.85, Long jump: T13 (24). Tobi Tella (McQuaid) 22-8, 18 (24). Anthony Butler (Letchworth) 21-8, 21 (24) Alpha Barry (Greece Olympia) 21-4¼, Triple jump: 14 (27) Anthony Butler (Letchworth) 46-6, 46 (47) Tella (McQ) 43-2¼, Mile racewalk: 2 (11). AJ Gruttadauro (Brockport) 6:39.88, Dq. Jack Murphy (Penfield), 1,600 sprint medley (200, 200, 400, 800): 20 (22). McQuaid (Dan Rooney, Atiba McLaren, Williams, Glavin,) 3:41.83.

Emerging elite/60: 21 (48). Ray Anikwue (Letchworth) 7.109 prelims, 24 (48) Tre’Maine Moore (Greece Olympia) 7.117 prelims, 200: 1 (8). Brown (WM) 21.64, meet record (2nd of 39 in prelims, 22.10), 800: 26 (26) Mike Mallow (Fairport) 2:08.47, 60 hurdles: 30 (46). Max Gloskey (Webster Thomas) 8.420 prelims, High jump: 4 (33). Connor Spiegel (Webster Thomas) 6-5, 30 (33). Zachary Kashmer (Churchville-Chili) 5-11¼, Pole vault: 1 (31) Terry Taylor (Greece Olympia) 14-9½, 7 (31). Nathan Crane (Letchworth) 14-3½, 17 (31) Jack Smith (Webster Thomas) 13-9¾, Long jump: 9 (31). Moore (GO) 21-8¼, 30 (31). Kyle Seegler (Penfield) 20-2¼, Triple jump: 21 (31). Trevon Tripp (R-H) 42-4¼, Weight throw: 20 (56). Andrew Palermo (Spencerport) 53-3¾, 27 (56). Anthony Ray (Batavia) 51-6½, 36 (56). Thomas Coene (Webster Thomas) 48-3¼, 800 relay: Disqualified. McQuaid (Glavin, McLaren, Rooney, Williams), out of lane, Dq. Rush-Henrietta (Justice Obasi, Dilan Campbell, Anthony Brinson, Lukas D’Alfonso), lane violation. 3,200 relay: 11 (31). Fairport (Bulkeley, Matt Orcutt, Nathan Markle, Mallow) 8:03.96.

Freshmen/60: 24 (32). Chris Ryder (McQ) 7.52.


Elite/60: 12 (36). Lanae-Tava Thomas (Rush-Henrietta) 7.53 in semifinals, (3rd of 49, 7.47 in preliminaries), 200: 3 (53) Thomas (R-H) 23.66* (3rd of 53 in prelims, 23.95), 800: 1 (29) Sammy Watson (R-H) 2:05.11, 5,000: 15 (23). Amanda Vestri (Webster Thomas) 17:53.05, High jump: 20 (31). Aubrianna Lantrip (Midlakes) 5-3¼, Pole vault: 25 (27). Erica Ellis (Gates Chili) no height, 1,600 sprint medley (200, 200, 400, 800): 1 (29). Rush-Henrietta (Tori Thompson, Stephanie Nwachi, Lanae-Tava Thomas, Sammy Watson) 3:55.48, 10 (29) Wayland-Cohocton (Jessica Hammers, Taylor Quakenbush, Madison Lewis, Meghan Curtin) 4:09.13.

Emerging elite/60: 24 (40). Tori Thompson (R-H) 7.868 in preliminaries, 200: 31 (43). Thompson (R-H) 27.71, 43 (43). Annie Hanna (Pittsford Sutherland) 26.68, 400: 17 (39). Hanna (PS) 57.96, 800: 10 (26). Hayleigh Palotti (Livonia) 2:16.17, 14 (26). Natalie Neamtu (Webster Thomas) 2:17.13, Mile: 12 (24). Neamtu (WTho) 5:06.23, Two-mile: 37 (44). Elsa Cole (Fillmore) 11:17.70, 44 (44). Haley Arguien (Churchville-Chili) 11:44.85, High jump: 12 (23). Rebecca Roth (Victor) 5-3¼, Shot put: 9 (31). Leah Hulbert (R-H) 39-8, 25 (31). Mady Dibble (Waterloo) 35-1¾, Weight throw: 21 (46) Hulbert (R-H) 41-2¼, 35 (46). Rebecca Rock (Penfield) 38-2¼, 39 (46). Brealle Brown (R-H) 36-4.

Freshmen/400: 35 (68). Vanessa Watson (Spencerport) 1:00.63, 65 (68). Brianna Bromley (Batavia) 1:05.33, Mile: 29 (29). Haley Riordan (R-H) 5:40.26.


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